CI intensifies global campaign against GMOs

  Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Consumers International (CI), the worldwide federation of consumer organisations, and the Foundation for Consumers, Thailand's leading independent consumer group, have jointly launched a global anti-GM campaign.
   Senator Dumaong Toottan, president of the Thai parliamentary sub- committee on consumer monitoring and a well known media figure later introduced speakers Amadou Kanoute, Michael Hansen and Saree Aongsomwang after the launch in Bangkok.
   Kanoute, director of Consumers International Africa Office (CI- ROAF) spoke against efforts to introduce GM (genetically modified) seeds and crops to African countries.
Rather than solving hunger in Africa, he argued that GM would further impoverish African farms by making them totally dependent on corporate giants such as Monsanto, who would have a monopoly on seed supply.
He quoted Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, who said: 'Technology is not neutral.
I look at a tree and see life.
Some people look at a tree and see timber'.
   Dr Michael Hansen, from the Consumers' Union (United States) and an expert on the effects of biotechnology on agriculture, explained the basics of genetic engineering and some of the dangers it posed.
He told journalists that some of the science that supposedly supported GMOs was dubious, hence precautionary principle must prevail.
   Ms Saree Aongsomwang, director of the Foundation for Consumers, outlined the current situation in Thailand and explained why it was so vital for Thai farmers to resist the pressure to adopt methods based on GM crops.
She pointed out the inadequacy of labelling laws in Thailand, showing how some labels were hidden or inadequate, while others were totally missing.
The global campaign was officially launched in Thailand, where farmers and consumers are deeply concerned at the unregulated introduction of GM papaya from a research facility into the open environment.
Although the authorities have ordered the destruction of the unauthorised GM papaya, scientists fear that the contamination has already spread.
The CI campaign was launched on the eve of the international meeting of Food Safety Regulators in Bangkok and less than a week before World Food Day on 16 October.
   According to a CI press statement, the global campaign, 'Consumers say NO to GMOs', will press governments and international bodies for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in seeds, crops and foodstuffs, while putting stringent safeguards in place for GM foods already in the market.
   The campaign aims to stop the spread of GM crops until internationally agreed regulations are in place and there are clear benefits to consumers, farmers and the environment.
At present, about two-thirds of GM crops are grown in the USA, with the remainder in a few key countries.
Most countries have not switched to GM crops, in part because of widespread consumer resistance to GM foods.
   In regard to existing GM foods, the CI campaign will focus on four areas.
It will aim to ensure that all GM foods are subjected to rigorous, independent Safety testing, are adequately Labelled, and Traceable back to their origin; and that producers are held Liable for environmental or health damage which they may cause.

11 أكتوبر 2004 16:00:00

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